By Emeka Mamah
Enugu – The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has rejected the proposal by the Federal Government to establish grazing colonies for Fulani herdsmen across the country, saying that the recent killings of people by the herdsmen in various parts of Benue and the Middle Belt has exposed the dangerous part which Nigeria would be walking through such gamble.
Ohanaeze also said that the proposed grazing colonies was not only against the Bible which was a supreme law (Exodus 22.5), but another form of internal colonisation of the eastern region by the Fulani North.
These were contained in a statement signed by the Enugu State President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Chief Alex Ogbonna.
The statement entitled “Ndigbo rejects Grazing Colonies in its Entirety,” read,
“The recent killings by Fulani herdsmen in various parts Benue State and the Middle Belt region has once again exposed the dangerous path which Nigeria is presently walking.
Curiously, despite the gravity of the situation, the Federal Government appears to be at a loss on how to tackle the menace, and has consequently hit on the expediency of establishing grazing colonies across the country as means of ending the constant menace of the herdsmen.
“While Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State is disposed and committed to a peaceful Nigerian society, devoid of senseless blood-letting and unconscionable massacre of innocent civilians by any group, we wish to state categorically and in the strongest terms that we reject in its totality the proposed establishment of grazing colonies in any part of Enugu State.
“Our total rejection of this hideous initiative is anchored on the following grounds:
*That the initiative is merely a more monstrous reincarnation of the dubious National Grazing Reserve Bill, which seeks to establish a National Grazing Reserve Commission that will acquire, hold, lease or dispose of any property, moveable or immoveable for the purpose of carrying out its function.
*That this initiative amounts to internal colonization of our political space basically because we cannot even challenge such unilateral acquisition in any law court in Nigeria without obtaining a leave or consent of the Attorney General of the Federation.
*That grazing colonies simply means a forceful takeover of people’s ancestral lands and assigning same to Fulani herdsmen who shall use the land for grazing purposes.
*That this initiative amounts to a deliberate attempt by the government to take over our lands and handover to Fulani herdsmen whose economy is anchored on cattle rearing
*That Igbo economy especially in terms of agriculture and other forms of development is at risk on account of this initiative.
*That this amounts also to enacting a law that would be preferential and advantageous to one ethnic group at the expense and detriment of other component parts of Nigeria, especially Ndigbo.
*That the reasons given by the Federal Government to justify this action are vague, preposterous and therefore totally unacceptable to the good people of Enugu State.
“Following from the foregoing, therefore, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter urges the State government, State Assembly and other institutions of the State to resist in the strongest terms the concession of any part of Enugu State for the purpose of creating grazing colonies for the Fulani herdsmen.
“We wish also to state that any attempt by central government to carry out this policy will amount to usurpation of our people’s right to existence and would thus be vehemently resisted. God Himself frowns at this kind of policy. “According to the law of God, If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets those animals stray and graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard” (Exodus 22:5).
“We hereby state without fear of contradiction that establishment of grazing colonies is not the answer to restructuring Nigeria, an option which Ohanaeze is committed and disposed to.
“We are not unmindful of the palpable fears in many quarters, within and outside Nigeria that there is a grand plot to impose a certain faith upon our people.
“Much as we will continue to work for and believe in the unity of Nigeria, our people will resist any move aimed at sacrificing us at the altar of that unity. Government should, therefore, refrain from initiatives that would tend to give credence to the alleged agenda of faith imposition.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo hereby urges governors of all southeast states, our senators, members of House of Representatives, members of the state Houses of Assembly in the Southeast, the traditional Institutions and other major stakeholders and indeed the entire Igbo nation to rise up against any form of internal colonization under any guise.
“Rather than toying with this bizarre idea, the Federal Government should initiate urgent processes towards the restructuring of Nigeria along the lines of true fiscal federalism. Enough is enough.”